Now I’m a Custom Bicycle Builder

A friend is a regular at Burning Man and has admired various custom bicycles there. He asked if I could make him a two-story bicycle. I did!

Two years later he wanted a short wheelbase bicycle. Both bikes are tricky to ride because the center of gravity of the rider is close the rear axle and they tend to wheelie on acceleration. The extension of the handlebars was carefully calculated to move the rider’s body forward and place his center of gravity between the wheels. Too far forward would be just as bad as too far back, maybe worse.

I rode this one before I extended the handlebars and wished I hadn’t. Bad crash! I tried to do a 180° turn and my knees bumped the handlebars. I was wobbling around trying not to fall off when a car came around the corner. Instinctively I pedaled a bit hard to get out of the way and I was instantly on the ground. The driver, a mechanical engineer, stopped and she said “you know, your center of gravity is too far back.” There I was on the ground, rather embarrassed, and being lectured by a much younger girl. Oh well. I rode the bike back to the shop and extended the handlebars